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Early Years Practice

A Day in the Life of a Nursery Apprentice

Currently working towards a qualification in childcare, Epsom Apprentice Leah shares some insight into what it’s like being an apprentice at Fennies.

My name is Leah and I’m an apprentice in the preschool room at Fennies Epsom. In this blog post I’ll take you through what a typical day is like for me but first, let me begin by sharing why I chose to become an apprentice.  

nursery apprentice reading a story to children

I had just turned 17 when I finished school and like a lot of people at this time, I wasn’t completely sure about what I wanted to do for a career but I knew I wanted to make a difference and do something handson. That’s when I began looking into childcare and realised this was the perfect fit for me, so I applied for an apprenticeship with Fennies.

I’ve gone from not knowing what I wanted to do to now feeling a great sense of belonging and I’d like to take you through exactly what a day in the life of an apprentice looks like to hopefully inspire people just like my 17-year-old self. So, here’s a little more insight into my day as a childcare apprentice.  

child pouring water

On an average day I start work at 7:30 and like to arrive with enough time to set myself up for the day ahead. One of the first things I need to do is get ready for the most important meal of the day... breakfast! As the children will be arriving soon, I check what’s on the menu (today’s options were overnight oats, fresh fruit, toast and crumpets... yum!) and set up the breakfast trolley, being sure to check any allergens have been catered for.

Once that is done, I then prepare the room for the children’s arrival by opening the blinds, unstacking the chairs and making sure the exciting activities setup from the night before are ready.  

child playing with playdough

When the children start arriving around 7:45, I greet them with a smile and a good morning. This is a great time to have a conversation with parents in case there’s any useful information I may need to know about their child; such as if they had a bad night’s sleep or even if they’ve been up to something fun since the last time they were at nursery. It’s always good to know as much as possible so that I can then keep this in mind throughout the day.  

Once the children have finished breakfast it’s time for the excitement to start! We will have set-up activities the evening before, ready for the morning, and this usually includes messy play activities, creative activities like drawing and art stations and engaging water trays, all centred around the children’s existing interests.

Although we do plan the days, if a child shows interest in a particular topic or activity, we encourage this to promote independence skills and child-led play.

Part of the children’s morning activities today included a fun circle time. This was a great chance for me to engage the children in something fun whilst my colleagues prepare for snack time and set up some afternoon activities around the room. It’s important to make sure whatever the activity is, it’s beneficial to each child’s learning and development and links to their individual needs. Whilst the independent play is important, we always aim to incorporate at least one adult-led activity each day as this is a good time to write observations about how their development is progressing which can later be shared with parents.  

An observation means watching, listening and writing anything I can see whilst the children explore and learn. This helps document their development so we can figure out how to tailor activities and learning to children’s individual needs. 

child eating lunch at nursery

By now the children have started to work up an appetite so it’s time for a quick snack break. Once the children are finished eating their nutritious snacks and the room has been tidied, I will fill in any paperwork such as meal charts. This is also usually a good time to burn off some of that new energy before lunch so we’ll often take the children out into the garden for play and fresh air.

11:30 am- Lunch time

After a head count and hand washing, it’s time for lunch! A level 3 qualified practitioner has set up the lunch trolley and made sure that the dietary requirements sheet has been signed, by which time the children will be patiently waiting behind their placemats. We make sure the food is in the middle of the table and encourage children to serve themselves and sing a ‘thank you’ song before tucking in.  

12:30 pm- Naptime

The children usually feel pretty sleepy after lunch so this is when we’ll begin settling them down for their afternoon nap and I make sure to have their comforters and teddies from home at the ready! Whilst the children are sleeping, we fill out the sleep chart which includes: the child’s name, time they fell asleep, the staff member who put them to sleep, whether they’re sleeping on their back or side and jot down if their parent has requested a sleep limit. This is then checked every 10 minutes. 

During this time, I will try and write as many observations as possible in between checks and help set up activities for the afternoon.  

2:00 pm- Afternoon activities

By this time all the children are awake and recharged! In the afternoons we will sometimes have an extracurricular lesson like Spanish, French or PE taught by our education coaches. I am the Spanish support for the preschool room which means that I encourage children to develop their Spanish outside of these lessons you often find me singing fun songs, reading Spanish books and teaching them about the culture.  

nursery practitioner and child activity

As well as these lessons we’ll often set up a table time activity which can include things like sensory trays based on their favourite book or an exciting STEM experiment. I snap some pictures for our parent app and use this time to write any observations.

At around 3:30 we serve the children their afternoon snack and I make sure that the tables are set up with cups, water jugs, cutlery and plates. Again, we encourage the children to serve themselves as this is a great way to promote independence skills and create a healthy mealtime routine. 

nursery apprentice reading a story to children

As it’s nearly the end of the day and parents will be collecting their children soon, I like to take this time to set up a few quieter activities with the children like drawing, colouring or playing with building blocks. Whilst the children are playing, I’ll talk to them about how their day has been and how they are currently feeling as it’s important to encourage children to talk about their emotions from an early age.

The children begin being collected around 5 pm and during each handover, I’ll share what they’ve been up to throughout the day with the parents and answer any questions they may have.  

Once my shift has finished, I’ll often use this time to complete things like the children’s observations, if I haven’t had the chance to do these during the day, or any apprenticeship coursework. Some of the other apprentices at the nursery will often join me too so we can help each other out, which I really enjoy.  

I chose to do my apprenticeship at Fennies because there was such a welcoming environment from the beginning and the management team were incredibly supportive. Now a year into my apprenticeship, I can say that I love working here even more than when I first started. I can’t wait to start working towards my level 3 qualification! 

Looking to start a new career? Discover Apprentices at Fennies today.



Nursery Apprentice

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